Oct 22, 2019

Tiger: Custodian of Human Life in India?

India: The Land of the Tiger.

India is associated with and mean many things to many different people, but at its core, the shape of Indian culture and diversity has been led by the natural ecosystems guiding life here – building up for Billions of years for its Early Inhabitants from a few thousand years ago, the Invaders from a few hundred years ago and those today who are Citizens of Independent India.

At the top of this natural chain, the Main Event has been Royal Bengal Tiger competing for survival with its biggest enemies: Man.

One can only imagine, through glimpses of Tribal life today around the Tiger Reserves of India, the conflict and relatively peaceful coexistence of early Man and Animal. Where, each was aware of the boundaries and respected it in their own self-interest.

Occasionally, boundaries are overstepped by individuals on both sides due to outright impudence or desperation, but the traditions of these interactions are so steeped in history that even Man is able to invoke forgiveness for the Tiger as the unembellished truth of co-inhabitation seems eternal.

As time passes, Man, through its ability to organize and assimilate, has pushed the Tiger to the brink of extinction – the burden of Human Population, the perception of Economic Development and the cruel desire for Sport Hunting playing its part in shaping the diminishing Natural World in India today. The same can be said for the rest of the planet as well.

While the solitary Tiger survives in India’s forests, literally at the mercy of Man, it gives off the impression that humans are the Masters of Planet Earth and the fate of all its non-human residents lies in the hands of the jurisprudence of countries.

Empathy towards Sentient Beings on the part of Man and Scientific Understanding that all life on the planet is interlinked/human survival is not yet in our own hands, has resulted in Policy Framework around conserving Natural Heritage and in India, Project Tiger has been a mammoth effort to protect the Tiger and the various ecosystems that is a guardian of – and thus the Tiger today becomes a direct Custodian of Human Life in India.

Wildlife Tourism in India in the 21st Century :

Today, Safari Tourism is a huge side-effect of Tiger Conservation in India. It is an advertisement of the success of the Protection of Tigers in India and a testament to the sacrifice made by the millions who have forsaken their traditional homes inside Todays’ National Parks to help authorities expand the areas by living on the fringes of the India’s Tiger Reserves.

The borders, though clearly marked on paper, are not physical barriers, as burgeoning wildlife populations enter the human inhabited areas often, often causing fear and destruction as a result.

Unlike in the Western World, the generally placid nature of the Indian villager allows for tolerance, and the intervention of Government authorities helps pacify any major resentment in such situations. Conflict animals are not put down with ease here.

The rest of rapidly developing India is disconnected from these man-animal interactions, and their only glimpse into such marvelous ecosystems is visiting the National Parks themselves.

Excluding a very small number of individuals, the captivating sight of the Tiger in the Indian Jungle and the sights of other unique species, inspires awe. This of course, from the safety of a Safari Jeep and not having to endure them in everyday life.

Tourists from around the world visit every year to get a Glimpse and possibly Photograph the Tiger in India. A centuries old tradition of enjoying game-hunting (now game-viewing safaris).

The collective sighs from young and old one hears when the Tiger walks out of the jungle is really a treat to behold as is the grandiose of the animal. Beautiful surroundings, its elusive nature and audio-visual build up, adding to its aura.

Why Protect the Tiger :

  • Tigers require massive forest tracts and currently only 3% of India’s land mass are natural forest and is protected in India. These are the carbon sinks of India along with our oceans and mangroves – and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere is absorbed.
  • Hundreds of rivers run through the 50 Tiger Reserves in India. The natural ecosystem which they run through providing fresh water and resources to millions of people. The sediments brought in by the rivers help in irrigation and give the soil life, thus providing food for the nation.
  • The Tiger along with other large predators keeps the herbivore population in check, thereby mitigating overgrazing of the grasslands and thereby also preventing ungulates from raiding the farmers’ crops.
  • Tigers are a Keystone Species, and the laws that govern Tiger Protection also safeguard the protection of the other animals which are part of the Tiger Reserves and the food chain.

Habitat Management, Research Undertaken and Anti-Poaching measures benefit the entire ecosystem of that area.

It is rational to think that the need to Protect the Tiger in India is very real, and encapsulates more than just saving the Tiger.

Thus, in a world where Man looks to conquer outer Space, it yet holds true that the Wild Tiger, a friendly foe, protects us from the dangers of life closer to home : our own selves.

To conclude with a rather plagiarised Television Catchphrase: “Save the Tiger, Save the World”.

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